Norman Cornish Pitman Painter shows to mark birth centenary

Pit Road, Winter by Norman Cornish Image copyright Norman Cornish
Image caption Pit Road by Norman Cornish depicts miners striding to work on a cold grey morning

A series of exhibitions about the last Pitman Painter have been announced to mark a century since his birth.

Norman Cornish, a former miner of Spennymoor, County Durham, was known for his paintings of life in the industrial North East.

He was a student of the Pitman's Academy at The Spennymoor Settlement set up in the 1930s to give mining families access to the arts.

Durham Council said six venues would host shows throughout the year.

One of the first shows, Norman Cornish, A Slice of Life opens at the Mining Art Gallery, Bishop Auckland Market Place on 6 April and will run until 13 October 2019.

The Pitman Painters' art class was founded by the Workers' Educational Association to make art more accessible to "ordinary" people.

The artists held their first exhibition in 1936 at the Hatton Gallery in Newcastle and many of the paintings are on permanent display at Woodhorn Museum in Ashington.

Their story was turned into a play by Billy Elliot creator Lee Hall, that was performed at the Royal National Theatre in London and on Broadway

Image copyright Norman Cornish
Image caption The artist was inspired by everyday scenes

Norman's son John Cornish said: "We are very proud of the esteem in which my father's work is held by the public and we hope the planned exhibitions and events will serve to reinforce the region's pride in its cultural heritage."

Cornish was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Arts by the university in 2012. He died in 2014.

Later this year, four further exhibitions will be announced at Gala Gallery in Durham and the Greenfield Gallery in Newton Aycliffe.

Cornish's former home from the 1950s and 60s is set to be recreated as part of the Remaking Beamish Project 1950s town, which is expected to conclude the centenary events.

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